Notre Dame shuts down NC State to keep Playoff hopes alive

Written by James Leyva


South Bend, IN – The first visit the NC State Wolfpack had to Notre Dame Stadium did not end the way they wanted it to. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the NC State Wolfpack by a score of 35-14. This top 15 matchup between the 9th Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the 14th NC State Wolfpack was about the potent Notre Dame offense, against the tough NC State defense. In this case, the Irish offense won and the Wolfpack defense did not. Notre Dame’s chances of making it to the College Football Playoff have greatly improved with this victory. The Wolfpack also still control their own destiny in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Wolfpack began this game with a touchdown off of a blocked punt by linebacker Germaine Pratt. That gave the Wolfpack an early 7-0 lead. The Irish would respond with a touchdown of their own as quarterback Brandon Wimbush threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Durham Smythe. Both teams would have no luck scoring after that until the beginning of the second quarter.

NC State regained the lead in the second quarter, after a touchdown pass from NC State quarterback Ryan Finley to wide receiver Kevin Harmon. This gave the Wolfpack a 14-7 lead. Finley finished the game completing 17 of 37 passes, for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Notre Dame would not let NC State score for the rest of the game and would go on to score 28 unanswered points. Wimbush would run for a three-yard touchdown and throw another touchdown to wide receiver Kevin Stephenson. Irish cornerback Julian Love would then have a 69-yard touchdown on an interception return. It was his second touchdown off of an interception this season.

Notre Dame running back Josh Adams, a Heisman Trophy candidate, ran all over the Wolfpack defense. He now has run for over 1,000 yards on the season. He accomplished this feat on his 110th carry of the year which makes him the quickest running back in Notre Dame history to reach 1,000 yards rushing. The record used to be held by former running back Reggie Brooks, set in 1992 when it took him 112 carries to achieve that. Adams finished the game with 27 carries, for 202 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Adams spoke about the offense after the game.

“I know it has my number on it,” said Adams. “But I don’t think it’s built around me.  It’s built around 11 guys on offense, defense, and on special teams. That really represents us as a team and how we’ve been able to approach each and every game.  Wherever we’re at in the season, we’re not here by any one individual. We’re here collectively as a team, and we’re going to continue to strive for that goal that we have set for ourselves as a team.  At the end of the season, if you know they want to give out those individual awards, then that’s what it is. But we’re staying focused on what we want to accomplish, and everything special that we’ve built here as a team, we’re going to stay focused on that.”

Penalties, injuries, turnovers and the defense giving up big plays hurt NC State throughout the game after getting off to great start. The Wolfpack had 12 penalties for 86 yards and gave up 318 rushing yards to the Notre Dame rushing attack. Until this game, NC State had not allowed more than roughly 130 rushing yards in a game this season. The Wolfpack’s electric running back Nyheim Hines suffered an ankle injury and NC State defensive tackles Justin Jones and Eurndraus Bryant also suffered injuries. The injuries took a toll on the defense and the Irish would take advantage of it finishing with 422 of total offense. NC State head coach Dave Doeren spoke after the game regarding injuries and the performance of the team.

“First of all, I thought Notre Dame played really, really well,” said Doeren. “Obviously we didn’t play good enough to win. I thought our guys were well prepared and I thought they fought hard early. Losing Nyheim (Hines) was a blow and fortunately it’s not a big injury – it’s just a sprain. They did an X-ray on him and it was negative, but he couldn’t get back to the way he wanted to play. Then Justin Jones was out and Eurndraus Bryant was out. So a lot of the guys we count on in our rotation on the d-line, that hurt us there. We missed some tackles on their back (Josh Adams) in the second half and gave up some explosive plays that hurt us. The turnover margin we talked about was going to be a big deal and we gave up the pick-six in the first half and it put us behind possession wise.”

NC State knows they still have much to play for in the ACC but their chances of making it into the Playoff are very slim as they now have two losses on the season. This is Notre Dame’s sixth straight victory and they now improve to 7-1 on the season. The Wolfpack are still undefeated in ACC play but they fall to 6-2 on the season. The Wolfpack look to put this game behind them and get ready for a showdown in Raleigh against the Clemson Tigers. The Irish will play their third straight home game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons next week and are looking to keep their Playoff hopes alive.

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